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‘Resign’ call to Island Health Trust chair Suzanne Goodband by Tower Hamlets’ mayor

PUBLISHED: 16:54 23 January 2018 | UPDATED: 16:54 23 January 2018

Suzanne Goodband, who chairs Island Health Trust which owns health clinic building on Isle of Dogs. Picture sources: Island Health Trust (inset) and Google

Suzanne Goodband, who chairs Island Health Trust which owns health clinic building on Isle of Dogs. Picture sources: Island Health Trust (inset) and Google

Island Trust/Google

A call for the chair of the controversial Island Heath Trust to resign has been made publicly by the Mayor of Tower Hamlets.

Mayor John Biggs' letter to Suzanne Goodband asking her to step down as chair of Island Health Trust. Picture: Mike BrookeMayor John Biggs' letter to Suzanne Goodband asking her to step down as chair of Island Health Trust. Picture: Mike Brooke

The unprecedented demand has been made in an open letter copied to the East London Advertiser while the Charities Commission is running a formal inquiry into the financial affairs and management of the trust that owns the Isle of Dogs medical centre.

John Biggs isn’t waiting for the Commission’s inquiry to finish—but has written to Suzanne Goodband urging her to stand down.

“The trust has effectively been taken over by a bunch of trustees led by Suzanne Goodband who have wandered away from its original objectives,” Mayor Biggs tells this week’s Advertiser.

“We are alarmed that the chair has been fundamentally conflicted in being paid massive sums through he consultancy company out of the trust’s funds over two financial years for ‘consultancy services’.

What mayor’s letter says

In light of the breakdown of public confidence and Charities Commission investigation into your finances, I would urge you to stand down as a trustee.

“We find that difficult to understand, considering the trust doesn’t seem to be doing much or having much to show for that expenditure.

“She has lost the confidence of the people on the Isle of Dogs—she should go.”

Island Health is holding £1.3 million public assets while large consultancy fees have been paid from NHS funds to a company solely owned by the trust’s chair, Tower Hamlets Council discovered.

The mayor had a meeting with Ms Goodband at the town hall with council officers present to see if she had made progress in appointing any local trustees and if she had “listened to concerns that the trust was departing from the reasons it was set up”.

Poplar and Limehouse MP Jim Fitzpatrick tells September's public meeting about raising issue of Island Health Trust in Parliament Picture: Mike BrookePoplar and Limehouse MP Jim Fitzpatrick tells September's public meeting about raising issue of Island Health Trust in Parliament Picture: Mike Brooke

He explained: “We wanted her to have that opportunity, but she has declined. So I have urged her to resign so that local confidence can begin to be restored in the trust.”

The trustees are currently considering “the contents of the mayor’s letter” calling for her resignation and are to reply, following her meeting with him late last year, the trust confirmed last Friday.

The mayor’s face-to-face talks with Suzanne Goodband followed a public meeting in September and questions in Parliament by Poplar and Limehouse MP Jim Fitzpatrick over consultancy fees paid to her from NHS funds in 2016.

The MP wrote to government ministers over the £1.3m assets the trust holds while its doctors’ surgery has been forced to give up space because of rocketing rent and service charges.

Protest meeting at Isle of Dogs, September 2017, against way Island Health Trust is run. Picture: Mike BrookeProtest meeting at Isle of Dogs, September 2017, against way Island Health Trust is run. Picture: Mike Brooke

Public accounts show “Suzanne Goodband” being paid nearly £180,000 which went to her company, Suzanne Goodband Solutions—she was its sole director, according to Companies House.

The trust, which was handed the premises in East Ferry Road during the Docklands regeneration, had already been referred to Tower Hamlets Council’s legal department last year which wants to “restore accountability”.

The Charities Commission has been monitoring the trust’s governance and financial administration since last February, after a petition was handed into Tower Hamlets Council by a concerned former trustee at a packed town hall meeting the month before.

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